February 12, 2012

Most Beautiful Jealousy

This is the saddest story about jealousy described in " Tale of Genji". It was  written by a female writer, Murasaki Shikibu in the 11th century. And this Japanese-style picture of the story depicts the jealousy most beautifully .
 The painting  is titled "焔(ほのお),  Flame" drawn by Uemura Shoen
It depicts Lady Rokujo who is in the extreme jealousy. How beautiful and fierce
 the apparition of jealousy is!  She is biting her hair and tries to suppress
her burning emotions  which seem to emit pale flame.
 ( image taken from google)  

Lady Rokujo is a  mistress of Prince Genji, but she is loosing his love.  She is beautiful, sophisticated, well educated, older than him and a woman of high status who is a widow of the crown prince.   Her tragedy is that she is too perfect to be his mistress.  More over she is too proud to allow her to be jealous or show him her true feelings honestly.

When Lady Rokujo gets to know the wife of Prince Genji is pregnant, she is burnt by strong jealousy. She is at the verge of  loosing sanity. Once she has been humiliated by the servants of his wife in public. She has the deep grudge against his wife. At last, her living soul steals out of  her body and transforms into a female demon. The demon starts to haunt his wife.

Lady Rokujo's soul becomes the demon. (image taken from google)
This is the Noh play.

I can not help feeling pity for her. What the hell  is Lady Rokujo going through? No one can be free from jealousy. Spider nets and wisteria flowers on her kimono tell us eloquently the depth of her sorrow and obsession of her unrequited love. Even how badly she is ashamed at the transformation, she can not do anything.
Does she want to catch his heart with the spider nets. 

Does she want to coil his heart  like wisterias do.
 Wisterias are doomed to coil other trees and grow.

Or her mind is already caught in the spider nets of jealousy and coiled by the grudge.
There is no way for her to go.

It is said in Japan if a woman is so jealous, she transforms to a  female demon with two horns,  which is called Han-nya(般若).  This is a  mask of the female demon used in Noh plays. A mask with separated hair in the middle is a female mask.
Only jealous women, but not jealous men, become the demons . Oh, it is not fair here in Japan!!

Being caught by a green-eyed monster, Othello killed his wife, didn't he??

Do Japanese men want to say to women
"If you are jealous too much, you will become a demon with horns. Be generous to my cheating." No kidding!

Strangely enough, Han-nya (般若) means the wisdom of Buddha to see the truth in Buddhism.  There are a few theories why the female demon is called Han-nya(般若).

In the 16th century, Priest Han-nya carved supreme masks of the female demon. Since then the masks of this kind have been called Han-nya.

Other theory says that to transform into the Han-nya is one path to the salvation led by the prayers of Buddha.

 In a traditional Japanese wedding ceremony, a bride wears "Tuno Kakushi" which literally means "Horn Hide" - a head wear made of a rectangular white silk cloth. This is to give a bride the caution not to have jealous horns after marriage. (image taken from wikipedia).

If a Japanese woman has the invisible horns of jealousy, a man will realize the reality of his wife after marriage.

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Paradise of Wisteria・・・